- The Washington Times - Monday, June 30, 2003

Who let the dogs out? The Washington Humane Society definitely was the culprit Saturday after inviting 400 pooches and about 700 of their two-legged friends to the 16th annual Bark Ball, the group’s annual black-tie (and optional tails) benefit at the Omni Shoreham in Woodley Park.

“This is such an odd and fun event,” said Mark Kessler, radio host of the WARW-FM’s (94.7) morning show and Bark Ball master of ceremonies. “I mean, when were you last at an event where everyone in the entire room is smiling?”

There was plenty of amusing doggie-style situation comedy: cocker spaniels writhing out of their owners’ arms to snatch treats off tables; poodles trying to sip wine; beagles wearing tutus.

A fun-filled fund-raising event, to be sure, but one for a serious cause, said Jody Huckaby, the society’s executive director.

“Raising this money will help us in our efforts to treat all animals humanely — which is our goal,” Mr. Huckaby said before reporting that the event was expected to raise at least $110,000 for animal adoption programs and spaying and neutering efforts.

Among guests supporting the cause were “Red and Rover” cartoonistBrian Basset; Janet Rehnquist, daughter of Chief Justice William Rehnquist; and journalist-political commentator Eleanor Clift, who revealed that she is really a cat person. “If I can get along with the conservatives on ‘The McLaughlin Group,’” she joked to the crowd, “Then I can get along with dogs.”

After dinner (at tables with poodle- and terrier-shaped topiaries) and short speeches, people and pets took to the dance floor, where they twirled to big-band tunes of the ‘30s and ‘40s under the direction of Peaches O’Dell and her Orchestra.

Before asking Abigail — her 3-year-old, black-evening-gown-attired beagle — to dance, Debra Graham of Chevy Chase paused briefly to describe her best friend.

“Dogs show you unconditional love,” Ms. Graham said. “They’re your friends when no one else is. Abigail has changed my life. Aside from showing unconditional love, I’ve met new people through her and lost weight. That’s pretty good, don’t you think?”

— Gabriella Boston

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